Find out which riding you are in.
There is no incumbent running in the riding of Abbotsford-Mission as Randy Hawes (Liberal) decided not to seek another term. The six candidates vying for this open seat are Simon Gibson (Liberal), Preet Rai (NDP), Aird Flavelle (Green), Don Stahl (Conservative), Marcus Halliday (Exaclibur), Roman Bojczuk (Independent) and Wendy Bales (Independent).
Gibson is a longtime Abbotsford municipal councillor and teacher at University of the Fraser Valley. Rai is a second-term school trustee in Abbotsford, and works as an auditor with the provincial ministry of finance.
Bojczuk is a Mission resident who previously ran for municipal council in 2011. Bales is a director with the Fraser Valley Regional District. Stahl is a B.C. Conservation officer, and previously worked as a fishery officer. Flavelle is an Abbotsford businessman. Halliday is a manager at Walmart.
Tell us what is important to you in the upcoming election.
An Abbotsford councillor wants to parlay his 30 years of municipal service into a job representing a larger audience.
Simon Gibson will be running under the BC Liberal banner in the Abbotsford-Mission riding. The long-serving politician opened his Mission campaign office March 23.
Gibson grew up on Vancouver Island, and moved to Abbotsford in the mid-1970s. He was first elected to Abbotsford council in 1979, and has served continuously since then, except for one year.
The married father of two adult children has been teaching business at the University of the Fraser Valley for 13 years, and previously taught professional communications at Trinity Western University in Langley. If elected, he plans to resign from teaching and from Abbotsford council.
Before teaching, he worked for Finning Tractor and Surrey Metro Savings.
“I felt my experience in elected office would benefit the residents of our community,” said Gibson on his motivation to run. “I think I would be a strong representative in the legislature. I’m a proven hard worker and I’m a good listener. I would go to bat for the people and I would be a good advocate for their concerns.”
Gibson said the BC Liberals have provided strong, financially prudent leadership.
“While I’m a believer that government has to provide a mix of social services,” there must be a strong economy in place to pay for those programs, he noted. “The NDP doesn’t have a monopoly on social conscience.”
Locally, Gibson said several issues are key, including Metro Vancouver’s proposal to build an incinerator. Gibson said he would work hard to ensure that nothing would proceed without “the full involvement” of the Fraser Valley Regional District.
Gibson has been spending two days per week in Mission since he won the riding nomination in January.
Gibson thinks he would be a good fit for the job due to his level of integrity and his record of service.
An Abbotsford school trustee with a professional background in accounting is hoping to convince local voters he should represent Abbotsford-Mission.
Preet Rai secured the BC NDP nomination earlier this year.
Born and raised in India, where Rai earned his chartered accountant designation, he and his family immigrated to Scotland in 1992, and then came to Canada in 1995.
The married father of three currently works as an auditor with the provincial ministry of finance, and has been spending time in Mission nearly daily to acquaint himself with that area of the riding and its residents.
Rai said he’s been doing some door-knocking and residents are telling him that it’s time for a change.
Among other issues, Rai said raw log exports, health care and education are on top of his list of concerns.
As a father and a school trustee Rai believes that a strong education system is the key to future economic growth. While confident that B.C. schools are doing the best they can, he said the erosion of the educational system in the past decade has resulted in overcrowded classrooms, too few resources and cuts to special needs programs.
Rai also said if elected he would focus on the economy through encouraging more people to shop local, and potentially, seeing if it’s financially feasible to get large employers such as Fraser Health Authority and Mission Public Schools to purchase items such as food locally.
Transportation also ranks high, and the NDP candidate wants to find ways to increase the frequency of West Coast Express trains, and ensure Lougheed Highway is four-laned all the way from Maple Ridge to Mission.
Rai is partway through his second term as a trustee, and said that over the past number of months, he was approached by “lots of community organizations and leaders” asking that he run.
He is taking a one-month unpaid leave from the board of education, and from his full-time job to focus on the election.
A lifelong outdoors enthusiast is hoping to trade his full-time employment in the bush for the halls of the B.C. Legislature building.
Abbotsford’s Don Stahl is running for the BC Conservative Party in the Abbotsford-Mission riding, but his current day job is that of a B.C. conservation officer, patrolling an area from Coquitlam to Boston Bar. He has been doing that work for 15 years after graduating from then-called Malaspina College in Nanaimo with a diploma in environmental law enforcement.
Stahl has been involved in provincial and federal politics for the better part of a decade. He was first introduced to that world 10 years ago when former MP Randy White asked him to help. Stahl joined the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon Electoral District Association for the Conservative Party of Canada, and sat three times as the group’s vice-president.
He has been serving as the president of the BC Conservatives’ Abbotsford-Mission riding association for the past two years.
“I decided I wanted to get more involved,” he said.
Top of mind for Stahl are crime and the threat of a garbage incinerator being built somewhere in the region, which he says would lead to increased pollution in the fragile Fraser Valley airshed.
Stahl is critical of the BC Liberals for allowing Metro Vancouver to go ahead with the planning process.
“With our children’s health at stake, I don’t think it should even be considered,” he said.
The BC Conservatives are pledging $700 million over three years to hire more sheriffs and to re-open some of the previously shuttered B.C. courthouses.
Included in that figure, said Stahl, is $4 million to hire 10 special prosecutors in Kelowna to combat gang crime and violence.
The former MEI graduate also wants to make MLAs more accountable to the public, and to ban corporate and union political donations.
“(BC Conservative leader John) Cummins wants his MLAs to put the constituents’ interests over the party’s,” Stahl added. “This would mean far more free votes.”
The BC Green Party candidate for Abbotsford-Mission isn’t what most would expect someone from that organization to be like.
Aird Flavelle calls himself a conservative.
“I’ve always voted conservative,” said the Abbotsford resident.
But after he retweeted a post from the Green Party on the popular social media channel Twitter, he eventually found himself having a face-to-face meeting with party leader Jane Sterk.
She asked him to take a look at the core principles of the party, and he thought they made sense, he said.
The party believes in participatory democracy, sustainability, social justice, respect for diversity, ecological wisdom and non-violence.
There are a number of issues of concern for the long-time business owner.
Flavelle said the prospect of a garbage incinerator being constructed somewhere in the region and its effect on the environment scares him.
A number of other issues have prompted him to run as well.
“I hate clear-cut logging with a passion. I don’t believe we’re doing it correctly,” he said of current forest practices, adding that the province should not be shipping raw logs offshore.
Flavelle has run unsuccessfully in the last two Abbotsford municipal elections, and says local governments need more support.
“We must empower (municipal governments) because that’s where the people are,” he said. More responsibility should be shifted to the local level, but the appropriate amount of funding should follow.
Flavelle has been a member of Abbotsford Rotary for several years, and also volunteers with the local hospice society, restorative justice, and Abbotsford’s environmental advisory committee. He attended the University of Calgary, where he studied Chinese and economics. Flavelle opened his own business, MSA Computers, 21 years ago.
A current director on the Fraser Valley Regional District board wants to represent Abbotsford-Mission in Victoria as an independent MLA.
Wendy Bales, who unsuccessfully ran for the NDP nomination in this riding, said she continued to try for a seat after she believed there wasn’t “anyone I wanted to vote for this time around.”
This is due to where the majority of her political competitors stand on big issues, she said.
Bales, who lives in Deroche, is concerned about the state of the health care system in the province, and says that for the past decade, while there have been improvements, it’s “still not as good as it was before.”
Mission Memorial Hospital used to be a full-service facility, but it’s been heading “downhill ever since Fraser Health Authority took over. There’s been a lot of top-heavy administration.”
Also topping Bales’ list of worries is the Aggregate Pilot Project (APP), which lists sites where gravel mines should be located.
She believes increased gravel mining will affect tourism and wildlife habitat, and that if some proposed pits are placed near drinking water sources, their viability could be undermined.
Bales is now in her second term as area C director, and says the work has provided a good education that would prepare her for being an MLA. She has sat on two provincial committees through her FVRD work that addressed issues such as the APP, agriculture and livestock, the Water Act and forestry.
Bales also notes that several other countries are far ahead of Canada in terms of renewable energy, and more money needs to be targeted towards training so that the nation can keep pace globally.
The self-employed landscaper has lived in Deroche for 24 years, and in the riding for the past 38.
A new political party has launched, and one of its candidates is seeking a seat in Abbotsford-Mission.
Marcus Halliday, whose father started the BC Excalibur Party, is an 18-year-old Abbotsford resident who says the party stands for truth, honour and justice.
“We need a government that cares about the people, not the golden handshake,” he said.
Halliday says he’s always been interested in politics, and has aspirations to run in the next municipal election.
Halliday hopes that his running for office will inspire local youth and motivate them to try to succeed, beginning at a young age.
The former Air Cadet flight sergeant and instructor has sat on the joint Mission-Abbotsford Transit Committee, and has volunteered with several community organizations such as the Abbotsford International Airshow, Abbotsford Swap Meet, Salvation Army, Life Second Chance and the Royal Canadian Legion.
Regarding transit, he wants to see the West Coast Express expanded to Abbotsford, and eventually to Chilliwack.
Taking the line across the river would also create tourism opportunities by enticing U.S. visitors to board the train and come to places like Mission where they could find unique items and shops in the downtown.
Halliday would like to see Abbotsford-Mission become a small-business hub, and would work with local councils to develop investment plans for entrepreneurs.
The Abbotsford Walmart manager would also endeavour to create bi-monthly community meetings where residents can bring issues forward to him, and he could share what is happening in Victoria and in the riding.
The second independent candidate running in the Abbotsford-Mission riding says he’s motivated because of the antiquated way politics is conducted in Canada.
“We have a horse and buggy political system in the space age,” says Roman Bojczuk.
The predominant problem, he maintains, is that politicians generally must toe the party line, and if someone speaks up, they’re “kicked out.”
Bojczuk advocates for free votes on all subjects in the legislature and states in his campaign literature that political parties divide people.
“My goal is to represent the community with honesty and integrity. I believe that the role of government in a democracy is to be of the people, by the people, for the people, not of the corporations, for the corporations, by the corporations. End corporate domination of the political system.”
Free speech doesn’t currently exist in government, Bojczuk said. “Our democracy is a sham and people are not amused.”
This lack of trust in politicians sees more people choosing to abstain from voting, he said.
Bojczuk says if elected he would go to Victoria with his constituents’ true concerns, “not what I perceive” them to be.
The third-degree black belt in Isshin-Ryu karate has lived in Mission since he was 10 months old. He ran unsuccessfully in the last municipal election.
Married 38 years with eight children and 14 grandchildren, Bojczuk’s working career has been with the Canadian Pacific Railway. When he’s not spending time with family and friends, he has a passion for organizing family and school reunions. Bojczuk also grows Christmas and fruit trees in Mission, and has been a lifelong student of history and politics.